£30m A&E investment

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Funding of £30 million targeted towards improving unscheduled care performance has seen significant improvements to the time patients wait in Accident and Emergency departments.

The news comes at the end of the first year of the Scottish Government’s Unscheduled Care Action Plan, which has seen new initiatives and additional staff help ease pressure on Scotland’s A&Es.

Like A&E departments right across the UK, Scotland’s NHS is facing the challenge of treating more people with more complex health issue. To improve the position in Scotland, the Scottish Government launched its £50 million Unscheduled Care Action Plan in February 2013.

With the first year of the plan now complete, the Scottish Government has been able to assess progress and investment so far.

This update shows that between the Scottish Government and health boards, some £30 million has already been pumped into improving unscheduled care.

Some of the initiatives brought about in the first year alone include:

●creation of a dedicated unit to prevent frail elderly patients going into hospital unnecessarily in NHS Forth Valley

●introduction of a new discharge hub is reducing delays for patients waiting in hospital to go home in NHS Ayrshire and Arran

●recruitment of 24/7 flow coordinators to improve how patients move through the healthcare system and cut out unnecessary delays in NHS Fife.

These are in addition to the recruitment of additional staff, including 18 A&E consultants and the roll out of digital whiteboards to improve the flow of patients throughout hospitals right across Scotland.

With fresh A&E statistics due out this week, the Action Plan has already slashed the number of long waits in emergency departments. Since the action plan was introduced, there has been an 87 per cent reduction in patients waiting over 12 hours.

In addition, the number of people attending A&E who were seen and treated within four hours was 93.5 per cent for December 2013, which has increased from 90.3 per cent in December 2012.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“Our health service staff provide a remarkable service, day in day out, to ensure that patients who have the most imminent need get access to the fastest possible treatment.

“That is why I am so pleased to see that our vital unscheduled care services both in and out with hospitals have been supported by an additional £10 million in central funding and over £20 million from local investment, in the first year of our unscheduled care action.

“To see the range of improvements that has already come out of this investment is substantial and we must now build on this initial progress over the next two years.

“Each of these initiatives show the best of our NHS where it is supported to deliver new and creative ways to deliver better and faster care for the people of Scotland.

“Of course we all want performance to continue improving. We know that there is still work to be done to build in long term sustainability of our emergency care. We will continue to work closely both with both boards and partners like the Royal Colleges.”